In the bleak midwinter, no matter what tradition or absence thereof one adheres to, everyone seems to turn to stating ambitions, setting goals, resolving to get more, do more, to profess to improve, to redefine one’s life, to move forward, to make improvements, great or small.
Well, the Toronto Historical Association (THA) is not immune from this introspection of ‘self’ and affirmation of betterment to come. For 2016, the Toronto Historical Association is determined to respond to the, ever growing, demand on us for more active involvement in city heritage issues, to move more quickly to support member groups in their efforts to promote our natural, built and cultural heritage, to increase our profile in the media and community and to push to have heritage an equal partner to arts and culture in the minds of the public.
We need to enhance the ways to bring the great treasures in our communities, the structures, artifacts, resources and expertise: our history- to the city and its people in a higher profile, tangible way. We need to engage the public on what Toronto has that should be protected and preserved, acknowledged and extolled.
We are moving to improve our connections to the public in the ways they wish to be engaged. Our Website, Twitter and Social Media initiatives are being reviewed and revamped. Our approaches to the news and information media are being increased.
We are aware of the great diversity of the people and their own avenues of communication through the ethnic press and bringing our shared history to new corners of Toronto’s multicultural community.
This is a big “to do” list, and, we know that we may not do them all or as well as we might, but we need to start and start now on these and other initiatives. For that, we need your help. The THA is you, after all and what we can do is for all, helps you and your own groups’ efforts and interests, just as your support helps us all.
We are always in need of help on committees and planning endeavours and, most important, in need of good people willing to step up to the THA Board to bring your concerns, expertise, energy and interests to bear on the ‘big picture’.
Our AGM is not that far away [don’t worry, we’ll bombard you with reminders] so it is not too early to consider running for office or nominating a worthy member of your organization to the THA Executive.
It is not too early to look at the ideas and initiatives outlined in earlier newsletters to see if one or more could work in your circumstances, or, if you have implemented any of them, to pass on the success or revelations of the process to others. THA groups can reach out to other members to see if joint action or groups efforts can’t boost all profiles in the community.
For our part, the THA executive resolves to continue to monitor and speak to issues affecting city heritage in all its forms; to respond to requests for help from the public, to offer opportunities for education, advancement, funding, appreciation, support or anything else that can be done to promote and praise Toronto’s rich and diverse history.
There are already many opportunities developing in the short or long term. Let us resolve to all work as one in making 2016 a good year for Toronto’s Heritage and the THA.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Plans are being formulated for the 2015/16 Annual General Meeting. Watch the Website, subsequent newsletters our Twitter account and the special notices that will inform and update you of the date, time and place. At present we are considering two dates in April – Sunday April 17 or Thursday April 21. Pencil these on your calendars, enter them in your smart phones and store them on your laptops, notebooks and home computers, but make sure you are prepared to send a delegate from your group to the AGM. Everyone benefits from the input of ideas, the discussion and the support given to the THA on these occasions.
YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
As part and parcel of any group activity, you are expected to participate and offer input. If something doesn’t go your way and you didn’t say anything...well. As with the recent federal elections, you can all see that votes count and putting the ‘right’ person in place matters.
So it is with the THA As noted above, our AGM is coming up. Here is your opportunity to get actively involved in your organization. Make sure your group has a representative at the meeting to add your support, concerns, energies and efforts to the cause of heritage in Toronto. Further, you can have a place on the Board – currently, therwill be four  vacancies on the THA Executive Board for the 2016/17 period. Any group in good standing as a THA member [ i.e. currently paid dues ] can nominate someone to be elected. Think about running yourself, or nominating someone you trust to speak for your group and Toronto’s history. The Board is accepting nomination now for the April AGM.
PAY AND HAVE YOUR SAY
While we all renew our energies and commitments for the New Year, let us not forget to renew our membership in the T.H.A! Get in early and avoid the AGM rush! Membership applications/Renewal forms are available through the links on our website www.torontohistory.net. Print out a copy, fill it in [completely] and mail it with your cheque or money order to the THA post box [P.O. Box 67, Toronto’s 1st Post Office, 260 Adelaide Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M5A 1N1]
Make sure you have included any changes from last year, or if a new group, your up-to-date information. We need your corporate address/office of record, executive contact and any relevant phone, fax and e-mail addresses. If you have a website, Facebook or Twitter account, let us know – we can make sure the vast internet knows how to find you and hear your story. We will link your sites to the THA website so that the public can find you by simply ‘clicking through’. Quite simply if people can’t find you, they can’t help you.
Most important; make sure you have designated a delegate or contact to the THA – it is to that person all the THA official information and newsletters will be sent for distribution to your group. In this day and age of ‘multiple platforms’ and ‘instant’ communication, hearing from you and giving you the latest in assistance and tools to do your great work is very important. You know it and so do we- let’s make sure we all can help each other and the cause of heritage in Toronto.
SPEAKING OF KNOWING
It pays to advertise. Of course, most of us have limited funds to mount great campaigns for publicity, but there are myriad avenues for ‘free’ promotion. Are you taking advantage of those? Here’s one: www.todocanada.ca with sub-categories such as: /ecategory/events/, which list events, plays, activities on a regional and monthly basis across many platforms. It is a ‘free’ service [advertising pays, etc... the ‘new’ business model.
Check out the many other possibilities on the Web – just Google “Things To Do In Toronto” and spend the day clicking. Are you tapping into this and making positive use of the opportunities for your group?
SERVICE IS NOT WITHOUT REWARD
The Peggy Kurtin Memorial Award and The THA President’s Award call for nominations
We in the heritage sector tend to be a modest bunch and just knuckle down and do the work without all the hoopla that surrounds so many activities. This is, sometimes, to our detriment. The ‘Arts and Culture’ sector seems to have many great and involved people on their side, we know because they are lauded and acknowledged in a public way. Well, we can do this, too. While not the Golden Globes and Oscars, public thanks to the many who toil for history and heritage in the city and surrounding areas deserve no less attention and acknowledgement.
It is time to think of who, in 2015, did a great job for the THA and heritage. Yes, we are looking for nominations for the “Peggy Kurtin Memorial Award” for the THA group that best exemplified the efforts of volunteers for heritage in Toronto. All the groups within THA worked hard and long, and continue to do so, but we’re looking for that one group who went just that bit further to make heritage look good to everyone last year. Send in your pick to email@example.com
Wait, there’s more! As well as the Group Award, the THA has taken to honouring an individual among us who has put forward that inspirational bit of effort that deserves recognition all round. Send in your nominations for the THA President’s Award for the individual within the THA who best exemplifies the work and efforts over the year[s].
Both the Group and Individual awards will be presented at the AGM [one more reason to be there!]
But! There’s more! – Not only does the THA recognize its own but the various levels of government honour individuals and organizations who work voluntarily to help preserve our communities in many ways. Don’t neglect the opportunity to nominate fellow groups and individuals for public recognition.
Heritage Toronto awards and recognizes each year at their Gala [nomination forms are available from them through their website], the Ontario Historical Society, of which THA is a member, honours groups and individuals, take time to consider their criteria. The Province has many avenues for awards for community service, from the simple Volunteer Service Pins all the way up to the Order of Ontario and, it might not be that outlandish to suggest one of the workers in heritage might deserve an Order of Canada from the Federal Government. All of these awards, their deadlines for submissions and criteria, etc. are readily available. We encourage all groups to put forth worthy members of the heritage community for recognition.
WORD IS GETTING OUT
It has taken some time and effort, but word is getting around that the THA is doing ‘good stuff’ for the city’s heritage. More and more people are checking out our website www.torontohistory.net and sending in requests for help, links to features, questions and offering material and artifacts for placement rather than see them lost to landfill. As well, authors and other experts are offering to come and bring their information and expertise to the cause of city history and, most important, [extra] ordinary people are stepping up and volunteering to help the THA in many ways. We are directing people to our member groups where we can as we can all use ‘new blood’ .
More and more, the links to our member groups through our website need to be quick and up to date. We encourage all of you to make sure your kinks to the THA website are active.
Make sure we have the latest information on who to contact within your group. If you have changed executives, contacts or delegates, we need to know. It is to your benefit.
Our Twitter following grows every day. While not in the stratosphere of Norm Kelly or even Justin Beiber, we are holding our own at 1092 followers as of this writing. To keep them and to grow our presence we need information to post- this is one more outlet for events, activities, meetings and rallies, anything the public may be interested in.
And, if you are using Twitter yourself don’t forget to ‘like’ and ‘follow’ the THA site: @torontohistory
LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT YEAR!
It is not too early to consider plans for activities and events for 2017. That year will see Canada commemorate the end of World War I – the 100th anniversary and the Birthday of Canada – 150 Years Strong. The previous Federal Government announced the significant outlay of funds to honour these milestones and the ‘new’ government has pledged to honour those commitments in a number of ways. Funding for some of these are dependent on community level groups putting together local events that tie in to these. What plans are underway in your neighbourhood? What are you doing to tap into this support? THA will be monitoring what avenues for financial support may be available to heritage groups and can support your effort to access these for publicity and development.
Don’t forget, as well, that Mayor Tory and the City Government announced that they are planning to support these events through special funding in the range of $5 million to $15 million. We are checking to see what, if any, of this money makes it through the budget process.
2016 marks the 150th anniversary of the formation of the Lorne Scots [Peel, Halton, Dufferin] Regiment. They have a number of community and regimental events planned, including a visit from their Colonel-in-Chief, Prince Michael of Kent. As part of their anniversary, the Regimental Association is trying to refurbish their regimental museum. A large amount of remedial work is required to remove lead paint and asbestos from the building. They are appealing to the community, military associations and the larger heritage community for support. They need to raise a minimum of $25,000 for the work. Any assistance the THA groups can give would be appreciated and publicizing the need would be a great help. Detailed information is available through the THA President, Paul Federico – firstname.lastname@example.org
There are still a number of outstanding issues within heritage in Toronto that continue to worry THA individuals and groups. The Board is tracking those that we can and will report on them in the next newsletter or in special notices as required. Additional updates will be made at the AGM.
We are continuing to develop new means and avenues to present our concerns to relevant bodies and individuals within the community and government and are always in need of support for the many meetings, presentations and other public access opportunities that are made across the GTA by various groups, organizations and agencies.
As was mentioned earlier, people are reaching out to the THA and offering their services and expertise in various areas to help inform the public of many aspects of history across the city. The THA is compiling a list of Speakers willing to come out to groups to present lectures, backgrounds to books they have written and other topics of interest. If your group would like to contact any of these or are interested in checking into their offers further, contact the THA for the latest list of people.
CULTURAL HISTORY ON THE MOVE
The Grand Scottish Diaspora Tapestry is coming to Canada after a receiving great response in Australia and New Zealand. Travelling the world to wherever Scots emigrated, this reflection in fabric of the history of the Scots is more than worth the look. As always, you need to check out the website and their Facebook page for full details, but clear your calendars to make sure you can visit this magnificent effort when it shows up in Guelph, Kitchener and Scarborough –soon!
EVENTS January-February 2016
Again, there are almost too many events and activities related to history/heritage and our member groups to list at any one time. We encourage everyone to check out the links and websites of member groups and those others associated with Toronto’s history for full details.
January 16, 23, 30
Events for the Community History Project in 2016:
Help us make the Tollkeeper’s Quilt out of “log cabin squares”, or use a square to make yourself a handsome potholder. If you return the square, its free ($5 returnable deposit); potholder kit $10; buy one ready made for $15. The Museum will also be open for tours, between 11 am and 4 pm, on these dates. Opening hours for the Tollkeeper’s Cottage Museum, starts at 11 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. 750 Davenport Road, at the corner of Bathurst Street and Davenport Road.
In the heritage department, the City of Toronto offers a full range of activities at all its museums each month and their website offers much to keep young and old busy all year. We do bring your attention to the upcoming: Robbie Burns’ celebration at historic Mackenzie House at 82 Bond Street in downtown Toronto, Sunday, January 24, 2016 from 12 Noon to 4 p.m. As well as copious helpings of Haggis, there will be traditional entertainment provided by members of the THA to honour the Bard of Scotland.
The Costume Society of Ontario is celebrating its 45th Anniversary in 2016 and will be offering events and activities once a month throughout the year. The first event is on Thursday, January 28, 2016 at Spadina Museum with a movie night and discussion of costume for film. Elizabeth and Essex with Bette Davis is the movie under review a 1939 colour extravaganza from the same year as Gone with The Wind and the Wizard of Oz. Check out the CSO website and Facebook page for details and space availability.
Heritage York: Annual Dinner Dance at Lambton House, 4066 Old Dundas Street, York. Doors open at 6 pm. Tickets $45; call 416-767-5472 or email email@example.com Speaker Elaine Waisglass - Restorer of 2 Toronto Heritage Buildings circa 1905.
February 7 at Toronto’s First Post Office. Make a handmade Valentine! Free admission, 1 to 4 p.m.
More details via Facebook.
February 6, 13, 20
February is knitting month at the Tollkeeper’s Cottage Museum; learn to knit; get help with a stalled project. Knitting enthusiasts can make an appointment to attend our knitting workshops on the the following Saturdays: Feb 6, 13, 20 and 27; knitting workshops are $15.
For an appointment, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tollkeeper’s Cottage Museum is located at 750 Davenport Road, at the corner of Bathurst Street and Davenport Road. It will also be open for tours, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on these dates.
On Feb 13, artist Theresa Allen will conduct a printing workshop wherein she will demonstrate the making of St. Valentine day cards using her unusual vegetable print designs. All materials provided, $5.
The Tollkeeper’s Cottage Museum is located at 750 Davenport Road, at the corner of Bathurst Street and Davenport Road. It will also be open for tours, between 11 am and 4 pm, on these dates.
THA Member Group, the Toronto Post Card Club is holding their 35th Anniversary Show and Sale see www.torontopostcardclub.com or go to email@example.com on Sunday, February 21, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, 6 Garamond Court [Don Mills and Wynford]. Admission is only $5.00 for a great trip through history in 4x6 format! The wonders of the world in your hands! Support this great effort to preserve heritage in ephemera.
Todmorden was once a small industrial community that provided lumber, flour, beer and bricks for the city of Toronto. By the mid-20th century, only four buildings (two historic houses, a paper mill and former brewery building) remained of this once active community.
The two historic houses, built in the 19th century, were restored to an 1837 and 1967 interior respectively, and opened to the public in 1967 in celebration of Canada’s centennial. Ulana Baluk, Museum Administrator, and Philip Cheong, Museum Coordinator, review the process of restoring the houses and share before and after images of the renovated spaces. St. Matthew’s Clubhouse, 450 Broadview Avenue, at Langley. Admission $5/free to RHS members.
Memberships $15/yr available at door. www.riverdalehistoricalsociety.com
Heritage York presents speaker Rita Deverell, Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Famer, and Social Activist will talk about Black History Month. Free Admission. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. talk at 2 p.m. Lambton House, 4066 Old Dundas Street, York. Website: www.lambtonhouse.org
Town of York Toronto’s First Post Office. March 6, this year we’ll celebrate the anniversary of Toronto’s incorporation with a Sunday matinee at St. Lawrence Hall. Details available soon, but we are now gratefully accepting donations for our annual Silent Auction! Contact us for details if you are a business owner interested in participating.
March 12 is our St. Patrick’s Day opening at the Tollkeeper’s Cottage Museum; come and experience tea and soda bread, the Irish way.
The Tollkeeper’s Cottage Museum is located at 750 Davenport Road, at the corner of Bathurst Street and Davenport Road. It will also be open for tours, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on these dates.
A SCAVENGER HUNT THROUGH TORONTO’S PUBLIC LIBRARIES
Designed by the Toronto-based graphic designer and web developer Noah Ortmann, the 36-page Toronto Library Passport booklet challenges readers to use library resources to accomplish little tasks, and to record their impressions of each of the spaces.
Ortmann tells CityLab that the Toronto Library Passport began as a birthday gift for his girlfriend. The project gained momentum after he tweeted a photo of the booklet to the TPL, which led to coverage in national newspapers. Now, the first print run is nearly sold out.
“One of my goals was to get Torontonians to become tourists in their own city and to engage (or re-engage) with the library,” he says.
The slim volume also contains branch hours and for tardy returners, a heads up about fines.
To post your activity or event in our newsletter please forward your activity or event to: firstname.lastname@example.org.